Secrets to the Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Perfecting comfort food with quality ingredients


By Valerie Harrison

What is your favourite comfort food? For me it would be a toss up between my homemade macaroni and cheese from the Beechers recipe or my quest for the ooey, gooey ribbons of delectable melted cheese of the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. The latter I would make most often since it is the satisfying, back-up meal that anyone can throw together with zero time and a practically empty refrigerator. In my humble opinion the grilled cheese sandwich is the epitome of comfort foods and simplicity in cooking. It’s astounding to see what can be done with the basic staples of bread and cheese.

Crisp and crunchy on the outside, gooey and warm on the inside I don’t think there is anything more satisfying than a perfectly grilled cheese sandwich!. The key lies in the quality of the ingredients. Never has this held so true if you want to go beyond processed cheese slices and stale bread. A good grilled cheese sandwich has three very important components… bread… cheese… and butter.
The bread is the Holy Grail for the success of your sandwich. White bread has the best butter-soaking abilities of any bread I have tested, although you can substitute it for a healthier alternatives if you feel inclined. Whatever you choose it must be of the best quality that you can find. The same goes for butter; nothing beats the taste of good-quality buttery toast, but if you’re trying to keep a healthier diet, buttery spreads can often rival in taste.

The next component is the cheese. Most often I use a good quality Canadian Cheddar cheese but for an outstanding substitute why not try a Canadian Oka. This is the perfect melting cheese and will create the ooey, gooey goodness that we demand from a grilled cheese sandwich.

If any cheese is native to Canada, it’s Oka. Oka is a type of Port Salut cheese, first made in Brittany, France by the Trappist monks. To supplement their income and make the monastary self sustaining they started producing cheese in Canada. History finds that monks created some of the best cheese and wines. They are backed up by years of experience to perfect their technique! A semi-soft cow’s milk cheese that’s creamy, nutty and fruity was made by the monks in Oka, Quebec a small village situated on the north shore of the Lake of the Two Mountains, just southwest of Montréal. Oka is traditionally covered with an orange rind that’s washed in brine and aged on cypress wood planks. In 1974, Agropur, Canada’s largest cheese cooperative bought the rights to produce Oka from the monks. Their cheese is made just down the street from the original Trappist Monk’s monastery.

You haven’t lived until you’ve added this cheese to your cheese fondue for a silky texture or tried it in a grilled cheese sandwich. The Beechers Macaroni and Cheese has spoiled me for life and no other recipe will grace my home kitchen. The secret to their dynamite “mac” is a small amount of chipotle pepper in the sauce. Why not sprinkle a little of this secret ingredient on your grilled cheese sandwich made with nutty Oka cheese for an added taste dimension. Add a garlic dill pickle on the side and you have a match made in heaven.

The Secret to the Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich        

Crisp and crunchy on the outside, gooey and warm on the inside I don’t think there is anything more satisfying than a perfectly grilled cheese sandwich!

Good quality bread
Oka cheese slices
Sprinkle of chipotle pepper
Dill pickles

Butter both sides of slices of bread; add a slice of your favourite cheese. I like to sprinkle the cheese with a small amount of chipotle pepper. Top with a second slice of bread.

On a medium heat let the pan heat up for about 15 seconds then glide the sandwich into the pan.

Next, cover the pan with a lid. Doing this helps evenly distribute the heat to the sandwich for optimum melting. Grilling the first side of your grilled cheese should only take about six minutes, but keep an eye on it depending on the heat of your stove top. No one wants a burned grilled cheese sandwich!
When the underside of the sandwich is golden brown and the cheese is melting out the sides, turn over the sandwich and brown the other side over medium heat. The second side grills much faster than the first, 1 – 2 minutes. So stand guard! Once the second side is crisp and golden, remove it from the pan, slice your sandwich and serve with some garlic dill pickles. The combination can’t be beat!!!

This article originally appeared at Honest Cooking, an international online food magazine featuring more than 70 food and wine writers from across the globe, with a focus on exciting recipes, food news and culinary travel.

Tell us: What's your favorite way to prepare (and eat!) grilled cheese? Share your tips with us below!

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: Arisnana
    296407 1

    Instead of serving the dill pickles on the side, put slices of dill pickles on the cheese an let them melt into the cheese. My favorite!!!

    May 11, 2011 at 5:13 PM

  • Snooth User: cokkinos
    364689 2

    I like to fry my bread slices on one side then flip and put the cheese on that side.
    then close the sandwich and fry on the outsides.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:38 PM

  • Snooth User: cokkinos
    364689 2

    Also great with a butter fried slice of apple or pear or some fig spread

    May 11, 2011 at 9:39 PM

  • Snooth User: Hana Choi
    Hand of Snooth
    803609 935

    Oh my, these are all great tips... and I'm very tempted to start my day with a 'fruity' grilled cheese, YUM!

    May 12, 2011 at 9:19 AM

  • Occasionally I like to add chipped ham, a Western Pa speciality, and, of course, eat it with Campbell's tomato soup. Great meal in the winters of PA.

    May 12, 2011 at 12:18 PM

  • Snooth User: ConnieB2
    616164 14

    I have been known to sprinkle parmesan cheese and a little garlic on the outside of the sandwich ... and always use a dash of cayenne or chipotle powder inside.
    And, if really feeling lazy, have used the 'Tex-Mex' grated cheese mix - it melts well, is stringy, and the jalapenos add a nice bite!

    May 12, 2011 at 2:00 PM

  • Snooth User: haroldh
    472141 2

    Spread a little Dijon mustard on the inside of the bread slices instead of the butter. It adds a nice zing

    May 12, 2011 at 4:35 PM

  • i also like to brown both sides of the bed, my twist is to add bacon to mine with a dash of Mesquite grill, ( it is something i picked up at a garlic festival), great flavoring

    May 13, 2011 at 1:51 AM

  • For you onion lovers try a thin slice of raw onion on top of cheese. Absolutely fabulous !!!

    May 13, 2011 at 3:39 PM

  • Snooth User: jamesy
    362251 12

    Outside: sourdough gets liberally buttered with a sprinkle of Parmesan and the slightest dusting of onion powder. Inside: Vermont Cabot, micro sliced green onion and a tiny HINT of yellow curry! Blind tastings have shown this one to RULE. ... What IS this?? A cheese sandwich. No its NOT!!
    OH, and some of us DO like a dark brown version of it!

    May 13, 2011 at 5:00 PM

  • i hate ketchup on everything but a grilled cheese must be heinz ketchup and i must have a pickle spear on the side i do the ketchup as a dip dip sandwich take bite then bite pickle ahhhhhhh spoken like the fat guy i am at least fat people know what taste good lolol

    May 25, 2011 at 10:08 AM

  • Grilling the sandwich on my cast iron griddle gives the best crunch and served with a Vlastic bread and butter pickle along with my improved Campbells tomato soup gets my vote for a cold weather comfort treat.

    May 29, 2011 at 10:59 PM

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